sales, business, marketing, digital marketing, behavioral marketing, economics

A dirty business called sales

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

If you type the question “Do soldiers enjoy the war?” on Quora, you will find a very interesting set of answers and personal experiences of soldiers, ex-soldiers and even members of their families.

Most of them, which may surprise you, remember their war days with a certain amount of nostalgia. Not because they miss killing but because they miss a sense of belonging, a sense of value because they get to sacrifice themselves for a particular goal.

Of course, there are those who are adrenaline junkies. As a matter of fact, there are those for whom the very experience of war and killing is actually a pleasure; and it’s impossible to avoid these people also and very often such people can be key figures because fear is their motivation and not an obstacle like for most people.

Almost nobody (except this last group) comes out of the war unscathed. The psychological consequences, minor or major, remain. And that’s why not everyone can go to war and that’s why not everyone wants to go to war.

sales, business, marketing, digital marketing, behavioral marketing, economics


Although to a far lesser extent and incomparable in terms of the risk it brings, you can see a similar thing in sales…

There are those who do it because they have to, but they don’t like it. There are those who enjoy it and there are those who both enjoy it and are still unscrupulous in their work.

If you’ve had the opportunity to work in a call center on any conversion campaign (not on receiving customer complaints) back in the student days, that was certainly your fiery baptism and the first psychological test to enter the business world.

I vividly remember my first, real experience with sales. I was given a reference list of the competition and the task of arranging as many meetings as possible. The deal was – the first month is the “grace period,” I learn and adapt; the second month I have to generate income that will cover my salary; the third month I have to generate income that will cover my salary and bring that much more to the owners.

I was terrified. I believe that out of pure existential fear, and not because of some skill, I had a conversion of calls to meetings of 75%. Even today when I look back, that period is one of the most traumatic business experiences in my life…

sales, business, marketing, digital marketing, behavioral marketing, economics


A few years ago, I had a partner with whom I worked on projects. The agreement was that I would do the sales, and his team would do the realization of the projects that we closed.

One of the reasons we stopped cooperating was his statement: “You just sell, and we have to do everything.”

Before we parted, I told him, “Now that you’re selling alone, you’ll see how hard work that is.”

Unfortunately, a couple of years later I heard that he had closed his agency. Since I know that they were very good and honest workers, the only possible reason was – a poor sales result.


Salesmen are just like soldiers, everyone needs them, but most don’t really like what they do. I believe that you have at least once been a “victim” of a sales conversation or sales email yourself.

One of my mentors always said, “The sales executive drives the second best car, after the company owner.”

sales, business, marketing, digital marketing, behavioral marketing, economics

Let’s be realistic, this is not unusual because the job of a sales executive is very measurable.

But that’s also one of the reasons why most people don’t like salesmen. Namely, we all subconsciously evaluate our satisfaction with life and career by comparing ourselves with others.

An interesting experiment on this topic took place a few years ago at Harvard where students were given a choice between the following options:

OPTION A: You will be given a salary of $50,000, while other employees will be given a salary of $25,000

OPTION B: You will be given a salary of $100,000, but other employees will be given a salary of $200,000

The majority chose option A, although in that option their income was twice less than the one in option B.

Whether you like it or not, the fact is that without sales there is no successful business and someone has to get their hands dirty and get the job done.

George Orwell (allegedly) uttered this sentence about the war, which we can easily apply to sales:

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf…”